How do I make my rental application stand out? Offer to sign a 3 year lease? Offer more cash down? It is so hard to find a house to rent!

Asked by Kmetraux, Sacramento, CA Sat Jun 29, 2013

My boyfriend and I have excellent credit, rental and home ownership history, good paying jobs, are non-smokers, and have great references. We've been turned down on three properties now. Why is it so hard to rent a house here? Property management companies say we are excellent renters! Any suggestions to make our applications stand out?

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Chuck Rucker, Agent, Sacramento, CA
Sat Jun 29, 2013
This is such an easy one. I own multiple properties here in Sacramento, manage many more and work with Owners/Landlords regularly. Here is what I tell folks who have this question (although I have yet to see any tenant prospect do this!):

1. Have your application pre-filled out. You wouldn't go into a job with out a resume, why go into a house without your qualifications? Better yet, type it all out in nice, readable format.

2. Have your credit reports that have been run within the past 30 days.

3. Get and make copies of letters of recommendation from your former landlords.

4. Have proof of income with reccomendation letters and contact info from your current employer.

Hand all of this to the leasing person when you tour the property (assuming you want it of course).

I know, it is a lot of work, which is why nobody does it! And yes, you will probably still have to go through the leasing company/owners process as well, but this will put you to the top of the stack. I can tell you it would with me and my owners!

Good luck.

Chuck Rucker
2 votes
Kmetraux, Renter, Sacramento, CA
Sun Jun 30, 2013
Thanks everyone. I have a standard rental application with pay stubs and credit reports. I will add a cover letter and get letters of references if needed to the package. The last landlord said the tenant she leased to offered a three year lease. Otherwise, it would have been ours. We will add that to our cover letter. A video or pictures of my current residence is a good idea too.
2 votes
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sun Jun 30, 2013
Hi Kmetraux,

I completely agree with Chuck, Jim & Sue.

I would act as if this is job interview!

"We've been turned down on three properties now."

Why? I know it can be hard to get details; however, visit/call the three past Property Management contacts and ask: “How do I make my rental application, and us as Renters, stand out?” Any input is good input! If they do respond at least you will generally know where to target your efforts.

Think outside of the box:
Would you prior landlords be willing to post a YouTube video pontificating how you were awesome Tenants along with contact info?

Also, this just might be a case where there are many high-qualified renters and competition is fierce where PMCs can cherry-pick the very best candidates!

2 votes
Sue Archer R…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Sun Jun 30, 2013
The answers here are great! (I'm taking notes here...) personally, and I'm only a small time landlord, I want to know that the home will be maintained in excellent condition, as it is received.

If you can find a way to promote yourself as a responsible tenant-- letter of introduction explaining your circumstances, how you handle when something goes wrong with the home, maybe a video of your current home showing how you live (THAT ITS CLEAN) could make the difference.

It's easy to lie, and many prospective tenants do- about not smoking, about not having pets, and lots of other things in order to gain possession of a home. So the more you can do to promote yourself as a responsible tenant will help.

Good luck!!
2 votes
allan erps,A…, Agent, Pearl River, NY
Sun Jun 30, 2013
Letters of reference from your employers, landlord & house of worship may help..
1 vote
Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Sat Jun 29, 2013
Chuck Rucker's answer is spot on, and thumbs up. Photocopies of pay stubs, maybe W-2, bank statements, copies of recent PGE and SMUD bills, You can pull your own credit report for free on annual credit report. com
Reduce the risk of exposure to identity theft by blocking out your social security and account numbers on your documents.
1 vote
James Tan, Agent, elk grove, CA
Mon Jul 1, 2013
All the answers here are great. Just want to add that some property management companies use the rule of thumb of house hold income should be greater than or equal to 3 x the rent.

If your income(s) are less than 3 x the rent, you should try to ensure the landlord of your ability to pay the rent & utilities on time.

Hope that helps,
0 votes
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